African Optimist Championships

2019 - Seychelles

2018 - Mozambique

2017 - Egypt

2016 - Angola

2013 - South Africa

2012 - Tanzania

2011 - Tunisia

2010 - Kenya

2003 - South Africa


Club Mykonos, Langebaan, South Africa

Event Gallery. All photos by Ingrid Owen - Event Photographer

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As the Africans were held at Club Mykonos, South Africa as the host nation were were allowed to field a team of 20 South Africans. The team was led by managers Ebenita Divaris and coaches Claire Walker and Brevan Thomson.

The team was made up of Calvin Gibbs, Luuk Beekman, Georgiou Divaris, Matthew Thorburn, Daniel Teanby, Brandon Ferreira, Ross Gaughran, Sam Lombard, Arin Long, Alec Webb, Lawrence Wilson, Alexander Brooks, Michaela Robinson, Kai Leslie, Elsje Dijkstra, Sarah-Jane Deary, Megan van der Walt, Jemima Baum, Taalia Naidoo and Henning Kock.

Registration went very well and all the teams arrived except half the Angolan team who had their visa’s declined. All the stops were pulled out and we hope they will arrive later today. There were some last minute corrections to the weight of the boats at measurement as some were a little light. The practice race went off without a hitch on Sunday the 11th and the weather conditions were perfect. The race leaders went around the finish line without finishing as they believe its bad luck to win the practice race.

The opening ceremony kicked off on Sunday at 6pm with the Kaapse Klopse leading the teams around the conference centre and into the hall with each team carrying their countries flags. They each team had a turn to come to the front to place their flag on the podium while their anthem was played and photos were taken. Then the traditional ceremonial mixing of the waters took place as each team poured water from their country into an African calabash. A finger dinner was then served and some very tired sailors headed to bed.

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Monday dawned breezy with some cloud around and after a coaches briefing the tracking systems were loaded and they set off to sail the first race. Luuk Beekman won the first race in Yellow Fleet and Georgou Divaris taking first place in the blue fleet. Racing was then called off as the wind picked up and a large swell started running. On day two we got in three races with strong winds and high seas. After a very wet start the sun came out and although there were a few squalls the wind dropped from 29 knots down to around 18. Coming into the harbour was interesting, but other that one capsize everyone made it home safely.

Team Racing was called off due a massive swell across the harbour mouth on Tuesday, so the lay day (Wednesday) was turned into a team racing day. RSA made it into the final against Algeria and won the first race. The second race went to Algeria who then had to make a team replacement due to sea sickness. RSA won the final race and are African Team Racing Champions 2013! The team was made up of Luuk Beekman, Calvin Gibbs, Kai Leslie and Georgou Divaris with Brandon Ferriera as the substitute. Claire Walker and Brevan Thomson were the coaches. Algeria came second and Mozambique in third.

On Thursday the fleet went out on strong wind and rain and then the sun came out and three good races were sailed. The Algerian Rami Riden was leading the points followed by Calvin Gibbs and Georgou Divaris. Laura Weegen, a German, was leading the girls. On Friday 2 races were sailed before the wind went up to 30 knots and the race officer sent the fleet home for the day. Calvin Gibbs had a good day on the water and jumped into first place, followed by Rami Riden and Georgou Divaris.

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On Saturday the wind was good, however a large swell was running. The fleet went out and races 3 races in varying conditions, from light shifty wind and end in a nice strong breeze. The huge swell made the harbour entrance tricky so a line of rescue boats shepherded the fleet into the harbour without any incident. The German boy Konstantin Steidel had a very good day with 2 firsts and a third and jumped to 1st place overall with Calvin Gibbs in 2nd and Rami Riden in third. An hour before prize giving a protest was heard against Rami from the Jury and he was disqualified from race  8 due to rule 42 and not retiring in that race. This lifted Georgou Divaris into 3rd place overall. As the German could not win the Africans, Calvin Gibbs was crowned African Champion, with Georgou Divaris in 2nd and 3rd went to Diogo Sanches from Mozambique. The first placed girl overall went to Laura Weegen from Germany but as she cannot win Africans Daisy Nhaquile from Mozambique was crowned African Champion with Nouha Alalia Akil from Algeria in 2nd and Maria Mabjaia from Mozambique in 3rd.

It was very pleasing to see how strong the sailing was from all the African countries. There appears to be a resurgence in sailing in Africa and this is very good news! We had 10 African countries attending. Countries attending were Algeria, Angola, British Virgin Islands, Egypt, Germany, Mozambique, Oman, Reunion Island, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia and Zimbabwe.

Team Posters

Event Website


Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

A team of 12 South Africans travelled to Dar es Salaam for the 10th Optimist Sailing African Championships. The team was led by manager Theo Stock and coach Claire Walker.

David Wilson dominated the event and walked away with first place overall. In 2011 David had picked up the silver medal but in 2012 year he got the gold and pretty much dominated the results sheet, with some very consistent first -place finishes.

Another notable performance was by Sonja Stock. While, finishing 25th overall, Sonja is still the 2nd-placed girl!

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The entire team was made up of: Zak Bester, Kirsten Clark, Brandon Ferreira, Calvin Gibbs, Henning Kock, Kai Leslie, Taalia Naidoo, Sonja Stock, Daniel Teanby, Dominic van Der Walt, David Wilson, Lawrence Wilson. Team RSA (Zak Bester, Calvin Gibbs, Kai Leslie, Dominic van Der Walt and David Wilson) also won the team-racing trophy in what appears to have been a closely fought battle with Mozambique.


Hammamet, Tunisia

The African Championship took place in Hammamet, Tunisia, on 1–9 October. There were 35 sailors entered, coming from Algeria, Morocco, South Africa, Egypt, Réunion (overseas territory of France) and Tunisia. The South African team consisted of Dylan and Arin Long, Henry Daniels, David Wilson (winner of the African Games) and Dominic van der Walt. The team manager was Andy Long and coach Ricky Robinson. Final results: David (2), Henry (4), Dylan (9), Dominic (15), Arin (16).

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Kilifi, Kenya

The Chase Bank sponsored 8th Optimist African Championship, held at Mnarani Club, Kilifi, Kenya is the largest to date.

A total of 69 sailors are participating, including 62 from 12 African countries. While local sailors may use their own boats 60 charter boats are being provided by Zou Marine and it is expected that these will be sold on to enlarge African fleets in several countries.

Mozambique, who are of course hosts to next year's All Africa Games, are the only first-time entry but Egypt, Seychelles and Reunion (FRA) have swelled the fleet after absence last year.

The Opening ceremony was a wonderful occasion with participants arriving on a traditional dhou. It was the social event of the year in Kilifi and there were many Kilifi residents in attendance. There was a parade of the 18 nations behind a Kenyan drummer and a flag raising ceremony. This was followed by the traditional Africans mixing of the waters ceremony on the beach.

The first day of racing 2 August, was excellent and 3 good races were completed. The winds increased throughout the day from 7 to 8 knots in the first race to 10 to 13 knots in the last race. The starts were competitive with a number of OCS's being recorded. It was wonderful to see the largest fleet of Optimists at an African Championship, racing in such beautiful surroundings.

Algeria has taken the individual championship as well as the girls' gold for the last two years but there were six nations in the top ten last year so some close racing is expected.

Each morning there is a rule 42 talk from Zofia Truchanowicz, ISAF Rule 42 Advisor, who will be working with coaches, sailors and race officials throughout the Championship as part of ISAF's ongoing education program.

There are three races planned most days with the Optimist Team Racing African Championship scheduled for 4 August. This will begin with a short clinic for the competitors given by Chris Atkins, the Chief Umpire for the team racing.

Kilifi in Kenya was host to the 2010 event, held from 31 July to 8 August. Final results: Tristan Rogotzki (7), Joshua Woolard (16), Dane Collingridge (29), Cara Stubbs (32), Ryan Barnardo (34), Moya Moorcroft (38), Matthew Gaughran (40). South Africa ended fourth in the team-racing event.

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Algoa Bay Yacht Club, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Cam Cullman of the USA has won the 2003 African Optimist Sailing Championships, here at Algoa Bay Yacht Club. Cam put in another great performance on the last day of fleet racing to open up the points gap at the top of the results table, from Aaron Larkens of South Africa. Cam carded a second and two firsts on Saturday to finish 26 points ahead of Aaron who had a dissapointing day by comparison to his results of prior days. Over the regatta as a whole, Cam had 5 firsts and was in the top five positions in 11 of the 15 races. He has not been outside of the top 5 in any race since Tuesday.

The day's other race winner was Brett Stirk of South Africa, who finished in fourth place overall, 16 points behind Aaron. Rudy McNeill had another good day on the water and moved up into third place overall, 10 points behind Larkens. Thomas Fink from the USA is fifth overall. He, like Aaron, had a less successful day by his own standards, still finishing all three races in the top ten, but none the less dropping back two positions from his overall third position at the end of Friday.

The wind overnight had swung towards the East and came through strongly. Upon arriving at the yacht club, the wind was blowing at 28 knots with rough seas. Sailing was postponed for a decision by 11am. By this stage the wind had begun to subside and a decision was made to go out. All three of the remaining races were sailed in a moderate to fresh Easterly wind and with a large swell running with the occasional breaking wave. Racing started in around 18 knots of wind which built steadily into the mid twenties during the course of the three races.

Morgan Wilson of the USA finished in 6th place overall and is first girl in the fleet. Saturday's performances edged a fourth American into the top 10, the other 6 all being South Africans. America's Eliza Richartz took over 10th position overall and is second girl overall, followed by Phillipa Baer of South Africa. Second and third African girls are Dina Ramadan of Egypt and Fatima Mahmoudi of Algeria. The best performing sailor outside of the USA and South African contingents is Hamza Lboukili of Morocco who finished in 11th place overall. Next best were Islam Benhadj of Algeria in 16th position and Dina Ramadan of Egypt in 17th.

The conditions over the course of the week have certainly not been easy, with vastly different sailing conditions on almost every day. This has certainly tested the skills of each of the 54 competitors. Kenya and Uganda in particular have relatively young and less experienced sailors, and the regatta provided an excellent chance for these sailors to get some big regatta experience. Although strong winds and high seas sometimes took their toll, it was really encouraging to see the spirit and determination of these newer sailors and which was rewarded on occasion with a good result. Christopher Childs of Kenya had a 7th in the second last race, while Lars Garvey also had a 7th on the second day.

Team Racing
As had been the case on prior days, we had to wait for the wind to come through, which it did late morning. 8 teams competed overall, with 6 of these eligible for the African Team Racing Cup. Unfortunately the wind freshend considerably during the course of sailing, and the event had to be abandoned with about half of the matches sailed. This resulted in a complicated scoring and tie-breaking procedure, and it was South Africa that emerged victorious,
having won all of their matches. They were followed by Algeria and Egypt. In the Open team racing event, USA displaced Egypt in third place.